I'm always looking for great Fantasy Series for kids in the 8-12 crowd and The Collectors by Jacqueline West is a perfect new pick from a best selling author.
We are a book loving family and all of my kids love reading. However, I have one daughter that struggles to read on her own. It's not a skill-level thing - she can read really well - she just loses interest easily and doesn't often finish books unless we're reading aloud together.
She loves graphic novels and can buzz right through a stack, which is great. But, I'd still like her to finish a good chapter book on her own from time to time, which is why I'm always on the lookout for a gripping Fantasy Series. I've found that a really good fantasy book will keep her turning pages, and if it's a series then she'll be more motivated to pick up another book when she's done.
So, when I received an advance copy of Jacqueline West's new book The Collectors , the first in a new two book fantasy series, I was excited!
Although Jacqueline West is a new-to-me author, she's already a well known best selling author of the series The Books of Elsewhere. After a readerly friend introduced me to her over on Instagram, we picked up the first of The Books of Elsewhere and became instant fans. And if you're already familiar with her first series, I can assure you that The Collectors will not disappoint!
The Collectors follows Van, a small, quiet boy who lives alone with his mother, a famous opera singer. But while Van may be quiet and often overlooked, he notices everything and has a knack for finding all the tiny treasures and trinkets that other people lose. He has quite the collection!
The real adventure begins one day when Van is treasure hunting in the park. He sees a man toss a coin into a fountain and make a wish, but it's what he sees next that really catches his attention. A girl and a squirrel dart out of the bushes to scoop the coin out of the fountain. But what Van thinks is just bad manners is really one small part of a much bigger scheme.
This thrilling story takes Van and the reader into an underground world where wishes can come true, but not always in the ways you'd expect.
Why Kids Will Like The Collectors by Jacqueline West
From the very first chapter this is a page turning book! It's a perfect read for my reluctant reader because every chapter is so compelling that she can't wait to start the next one. She often loses interest in a book about half way through, but this one has been too exciting to stop.
There's also a lot of mystery to keep readers on their toes. Why can't other people seem to see the strange girl and her squirrel? What kind of creature is responsible for those terrible ROARS under the city? Who are the good guys and who are the bad guys? It's really difficult to tell!
And there's plenty of exciting magic and fantastical creatures. There are people that can talk to animals. There are creatures with very unique and perhaps dangerous abilities. And even Van, a seemingly ordinary, if not a little awkward, boy, discovers that there's more to him than everyone thought.
Why Parents and Teachers Will Like The Collectors by Jacqueline West
I loved reading this book! It was thrilling right to the very end. And while I'm no different than the 10 year old reader who loves the magic and the mystery, I also picked up on some of the bigger themes. These are things that will most definitely influence and even instruct the book's young readers, but young readers may not always realize the role some of these themes have in their experience of the book. This is where parents and teachers can have such wonderful conversations with young readers.
For example, I loved that Van is hard of hearing. While he feels like this often makes it more difficult for him to fit in, it's worth discussing the scenes in the book where Van thrives because of, rather than in spite of, this "disability."
There are also a lot of moral conundrums in this book that are great conversation starters. Just trying to figure out, like Van struggles to do, who are the good guys and who are the villains is a long conversation with plenty of twists. Are there even any villains at all? Are people just trying to do what they think is right? Or, is there an actual right and wrong in this situation? Honestly, I think I'll have to wait until Book 2 before I make a final decision. Still, I'm looking forward to having this conversation with my kids.
There's also a character that is dismissive of Van and even seems to be openly hostile to him at points. He's not quite a bully, but he's also not very nice. The reader, however, gets to look a little deeper into his life and some of his worries and fears. I love when authors do this! I love having conversations with my kids about how there's always more than one side to a story and certainly so many sides to people. These kind of plot points and characters are what help kids become more understanding, more compassionate. Jacqueline West does an excellent job of developing characters that matter.
And then there are the wishes. We've all made a wish that we hoped would come true, but have you ever thought about what would happen if every wish made on every birthday candle actually came true? Jacqueline West has! And it's so much more interesting and complicated than you might have imagined. Good wishes, bad wishes, unintended consequences. There's so much to talk about and think about!
Why You Will Want To Read The Collectors by Jacqueline West
The Collectors is a wonderfully imagined book! It's also well written with characters you can root for. It would make a great family read-aloud.
It's an exciting, compelling book for young readers to read on their own. The pages will turn themselves! And, like all the best children's books, it's a fantastic read for teens and appreciative grown ups too. My personal recommendation is for readers 8 and up.
The Collectors by Jacqueline West comes out on October 9, 2018. You can pre-order it here or put in the request at your local library and/or book store now so they'll have it in stock next month. You can find out more about the fabulous author here.
P.S. Pop on over to Instagram to see the tiny treasure box filled with the most magical little collection that Jacqueline West sent me! It would be fun to make something similar with your own kids after they read the book.
I received an Advanced Reader's Edition of this book from the author. All opinions are entirely my own.